After nine months of growing a human being, you may be eager to shed some baby weight and get back to feeling your normal self. However, for moms who are breastfeeding, this can be a delicate balance of maintaining your milk supply while feeling healthy. Here’s how to lose weight while breastfeeding.
How Soon After Childbirth Can I Start Exercising?
If you are trying to figure out how to lose weight while breastfeeding, you might be wondering when you can actually start the process of cutting calories or picking up your physical activity. The answer can vary, depending on a few factors.
Your post-partum check-ups with your doctor are important since they will be the ones who can examine you and let you know when your body is ready for exercise.
If you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you can generally exercise a few weeks after delivery. However, now is not the time to start sprints or vigorous cardio. You will need to stick to a very low-stress exercise regime for about 12 weeks.
On the other hand, if you had complications, a C-Section, or extensive vaginal repair, you will need to talk to your doctor as the clear to exercise will vary for everyone. At a minimum, it will take at least 6 weeks to heal. Afterward, no heavy weight lifting or high impact exercise for 3 to 4 months.
Often, with extremely high activity exercise (around professional athlete level), lactic acid may build up in breast milk and cause it to taste sour. To avoid this, breastfeed before exercise, or otherwise shower and then release about 3 mL of breast milk to get rid of the lactic acid.
Is it Safe to Diet While Breastfeeding?
These days, dieting means so many different things to different people. While some people swear by eliminating certain food groups or cutting out trigger foods, for others nothing is off limits as long as portions are small.
In general, the goal of dieters is to burn more calories than they consume. Women typically aim to restrict their calorie intake to between 1200 and 1600 per day to ensure they have a calorie deficit.
That’s all fine and good for someone who isn’t nourishing and sustaining a tiny human 24/7. For those who are breastfeeding, however, you will need approximately 400 more calories a day. As we all know, babies can have growth spurts and the amount of energy (calories) you need may vary.
So, figuring out how to lose weight while breastfeeding is neither simple nor an exact science. To be safe, consuming a daily caloric intake of around 1800-2000 calories while breastfeeding will most likely lower your weight while providing enough milk for your newborn.
More important than the calories needed is the quality of the food you are eating. These need to be highly nutritious foods, especially if you are on a vegetarian or a vegan diet.
If you find you are not producing enough milk, increase the number of calories eaten by 100 until you are seeing satisfying weight loss while still nourishing your little one.
How to Lose Weight without Losing Your Milk Supply
There are many ways you can start the journey of learning how to lose weight while breastfeeding. As you probably already suspect, crash diets that decrease calorie intake rapidly or limit your food choices drastically will severely impact your milk production. Simply put, to lose weight after birth, you need to take it slow.
1) Moderate exercise can help you in more ways than just losing weight. If you slacked a bit on muscle-building while pregnant (who doesn’t?!) you may particularly want to focus on exercises that will help strengthen muscles back to normal. Just remember, you will need to increase the calories you consume to offset the loss.
2) Make sure your goals are realistic. You should expect to lose no more than a pound every week or two weeks. Yes, it seems slow but that balance between weight loss and breastfeeding is a tricky one to nail. If breastfeeding is important to you, focus more on that and make weight loss secondary. Eventually, it will add up if you stick to eating the right foods and logging your calories
3) Many moms find it helpful to use an app on their phones. There are many different kinds, but most will allow you to create meals, recipes, and log in food via a barcode. This will help you keep track of your food intake with relatively little inconvenience.
4) If you are having trouble with weight loss, or if you’d like extra reassurance, try meeting with a nutritionist. They can be a wealth of information for those trying to figure out how to lose weight while breastfeeding. Work together to come up with a solid plan, then start at it!
5) Losing weight and keeping milk production up may be a huge task to juggle. It’s a big stretch for your body to do both at the same time, so if breastfeeding is the goal, consider maintaining the same weight for a while.
6) As a new mom, it will be challenging to cook healthy food from scratch. Meal planning as well as keeping trigger foods out of your home can be very helpful!
7) Keep in mind that an important part of both weight loss and breastfeeding production is drinking plenty of water. You should be drink water well before you feel thirsty, especially right before or after breastfeeding.
8) An easy trick that has helped many women figure out how to lose weight while breastfeeding is to eat several small meals throughout the day instead of indulging in a few large meals. Eat regularly throughout the day, using small meals every few hours to keep the body happily producing milk. Otherwise, there may be dips in blood sugar levels that ultimately decrease the hormone that tells the body to make milk.
9) Another helpful tip for those learning how to lose weight while breastfeeding is to look for group exercise classes specifically made for new moms. Not only will you learn some new moves, but you can also make friends who have a similar struggle and goal which always helps spur you on.
At the end of the day, remember that your body took nine months to put some weight on while growing a human. Your hips and ribcage literally have expanded and changed shape, so give your body time to get back to how it was, and give yourself plenty of grace.